The slow web.

Digital consumption today is like fast food: quick and engaging but not always healthy.


December 11, 2023


Steve Berry

The slow web.

As I reflect on the current trends in digital consumption, I can draw parallels to the fast-food industry. Chipotle, a pioneer in the fast-casual sector, revolutionized how we perceive quick dining. Similarly, the influx of AI algorithms in social media platforms like Instagram creates a 'fast food' moment in our digital lives. The content, tailored by these algorithms, is akin to high-calorie, fast-food snacks - quick, engaging, and unhealthy.

Advertisers flood my feed with what they believe to be relevant to me on my Instagram, which I now call the 'Shopping Channel.' As a 38-year-old man, my Explore page is often filled with images designed to capture my attention. Reddit is right behind IG.

This constant bombardment is eroding our attention spans. I deliberately avoid TikTok, fearing its impact on my focus and time. Like the counter-movement in the food industry against fast food, emphasizing slow dining and savoring each course, I foresee a similar trend emerging in our digital consumption. Imagine a digital space where updates are infrequent, where content is limited and curated, forcing us to engage more thoughtfully.

This scarcity in digital content means a shift away from advertiser-driven platforms. It'll pave the way for subscription services or platforms funded by individual supporters. So, it's the opposite of what we've been building for the past 15 years.

I am searching for such innovations in the digital space, hoping to find platforms that encourage more meaningful engagement. If you come across any, send them my way. There are only a handful.

Steve Berry
Principal, Thought Merchants

More Opinions